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Canada’s real war is with itself Print E-mail
Written by Link Byfield   
Monday, 12 June 2006

You see an amazing number of those yellow-ribbon “support our troops” magnets on cars these days.

Not since I went to Washington and the southern states during the build-up to the Iraq invasion in 2003 have I seen so many.

Americans, of course, always seem to be at war with someone, or just taking a breather. It’s the price of empire.

Nations have characters, just like individual people, and America is by nature combative, assertive, excitable, patriotic, and sometimes incredibly generous.

But now we’re at war too, against the same enemy -- Islam in arms.

This is nothing new. The Western nations have been at war with Islam on and off for the last 12 centuries. Whether you say the fight is over religion or over fundamental values, it comes to the same thing.

And this time it’s more than “peace-keeping.” Our soldiers are exchanging fire with a foreign enemy massing more and more troops against us.

My neighbor’s fiancé, for example, was in the same firefight that killed Captain Nichola Goddard.

Even so, the reality is slow to sink in. Afghanistan is far away.

It all hit much closer to home last week after 17 Ontario Muslims were charged with plotting mass destruction. It all seemed so unreal -- so *unCanadian*.

But that’s *our* national character. Complacent. Naïve. Swift to preach but slow to act.

We weren’t always like this, but for the past half-century we have tried to create a kind of Neverland North -- a serenely nonjudgmental playground of multicultural equality, gender equality, income equality and behavioral equality, where everyone can do pretty much as they please without fear of criticism or consequence.

Except maybe smoke.

Well, the world is overtaking us, and let’s hope it doesn’t overwhelm us. What’s coming at us is formidable.

Radical Islam is a long-term threat. As Europe is already finding out, the struggle is not just about bombs. It’s even more about birthrates. Islam is rapidly filling the population vacuum created by Europe’s low-fertility culture.

Canada’s birthrate is almost as low as Europe’s, and far below the level of self-replenishment.
Economically, we face China and India, both rapidly expanding and modernizing. The Chinese are about to unload a $7,000 car on the world. Can Ontario compete? It has already lost about 150,000 manufacturing jobs in the past two years.

Successful nations all over the world are reducing their cost of government. Are we? No.

Try asking your next-door neighbor how prosperous Canada is compared to other countries. Are we in the top six? The top 10? No, actually we’re about 18th and sinking.

What about Canada’s vaunted health care system? Best in the world? No, the World Health Organization ranks us 30th.

The last half century have seen the character of Canada debased by the governments we elected.
Ever since politicians began developing the federal nanny state in the 1950s, we have been told to love our country for how much we get out of it.

But real patriotism and citizenship are not about how much we can take. They’re about how much we give. They’re about assuming responsibility for family, community and nation.

Sometimes a country has to be attacked to rediscover this basic human truth.

That yellow “support our troops” magnet may be a sign we are waking up.

- Link Byfield

Link Byfield is chairman of the Edmonton-based Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy, and an Alberta senator-elect.
"Just Between Us" is a feature service of the Citizens Centre for Freedom and Democracy. The purpose of the Citizens Centre is to enhance freedom and democracy by enabling ordinary citizens to become active and effective on important issues outside the normal processes of party politics.

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